Bill To Bar U.S. From Selling Oil Reserves to China Passes House With Bipartisan Support

Vote comes after Free Beacon report showed Biden sold one million reserve barrels to Chinese oil giant

Kevin McCarthy is elected next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) / Reuters
January 12, 2023

The House on Thursday passed a bill that bars the United States from selling its oil reserves to China, a move that comes after the Washington Free Beacon exposed the Biden administration's decision to sell nearly one million reserve barrels to a Chinese oil giant.

The bill received wide bipartisan backing, with a majority of House Democrats—113 of the 210 who voted—joining their Republican counterparts to support it. 

The vote's bipartisan nature comes as a blow to President Joe Biden. After a July Free Beacon report showed that Biden sold 950,000 Strategic Petroleum Reserve barrels to Unipec, the trading arm of the China Petrochemical Corporation, the Democrat's administration defended the move. White House spokesman Ian Sams, for example, accused Republicans who criticized the sale of "lying" and "pushing false conspiracy theories about the president." Many House Democrats, however, disagreed, and the bill will head to the Senate with wide support from both parties.

Should the bill pass the upper chamber, it's unclear if Biden would sign it given his administration's aggressive defense of foreign oil sales. The White House did not return a request for comment.

While many House Democrats rallied around the bill, some of their colleagues vocally opposed it. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas), for example, said that the bill would inhibit the president's ability to respond to domestic energy crises like the one seen in Texas last year. "This legislation literally says, if the president has the need and necessity to protect the American people, it will not be allowed." Lee's characterization of the bill, which ensures that "petroleum products will not be exported to the People's Republic of China," is false.

Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R., Texas) applauded the bill's passing in a Thursday statement:

"The Biden administration's anti-American energy agenda stamped out our energy independence and boosted our reliance on foreign oil, sending prices through the roof. We should not be selling emergency oil reserves to a geopolitical adversary, especially at a time when our country is facing an unprecedented energy crisis."